Burges Salmon LLP in Bristol fields ‘a truly expert pensions team, that is an obvious choice for high-value pensions litigation‘, with recent experience handling prominent cases, including high-profile professional negligence claims and high-value equalisation cases. The team has a sizeable roster of trustee and employer clients across the public and private sectors, with expertise in small self-administered scheme (SSAS) and self-invested personal pension (SIPP) disputes, and the related financial services and tax work. Rectification and construction claims are another area of expertise, as are declaratory claims. Justin Briggs jointly heads up the group with Suzanne Padmore, and both are adept across the spectrum of pensions disputes. Clive Pugh is an expert in pensions regulatory and funding matters, while senior associate Amy Khodabandehloo is increasingly known for handling pensions-related professional negligence claims.
Pensions: dispute resolution in London
Justin Briggs; Suzanne Padmore
Other key lawyers:
Clive Pugh; Amy Khodabandehloo; Kelly Whittaker
‘Truly expert pensions team, who are an obvious choice for high-value pensions litigation.’
‘The team, headed by Justin Briggs, is one of the most high profile firms in pensions litigation. Primarily based in Bristol, it is to all intents and purposes, a City firm with the case load and reputation to boot. The team covers a wide range of work from pure pensions disputes (all the way to the ECJ), regulatory matters involving the pensions regulator and hard-fought professional negligence disputes. They act for employer, trustees and members alike.’
‘Justin Briggs and fellow partner Suzanne Padmore are both first rate – energetic, astute, hard working, very experienced and brilliant with clients. Of the associates, Kelly Whittaker and Amy Khodabandehloo both have very big futures and work well above their experience.‘
‘Lots of strength in depth. Great resources used well – they ensure that exactly the right expertise is deployed on each case. Involved in many of the biggest cases in pensions over the last few years.‘
‘Justin Briggs has a thorough understanding of the field, always aware of what it is that is happening on the ground.’
‘Justin Briggs is outstanding – very bright, hugely expert in pensions law and an excellent strategic litigator.’
‘Burges Salmon have shown a good grasp of their subject and brought some good ideas and thinking to dealing with some complex issues.’
PSGS Trust Corporation Ltd, the Trustees to the Robert Horne Group Pension Scheme, appointed by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF)
Honda Group – UK Pension Scheme Trustee Limited
Trustees of the Silentnight Pension Scheme
West Northamptonshire Council
Cobb Europe Limited and the Trustees of the Cobb Pension Scheme
St Modwen Properties PLC and St Modwen Pensions Limited (Rectification Application)
Trustees of Associated British Engineering Plc Pension Scheme
Mattioli Woods plc
- Advising the Trustees, PSGS Trust Corporation Ltd, of the Robert Horne Group Pension in relation to a significant negligence claim valued in excess of £20m against Aon which results from errors committed in the closure of a defined benefit scheme to future accrual, as well as in implementing other scheme changes.
- Advising the Trustees of the Silentnight Group DB Scheme in a significant regulatory matter, which settled in February 2021 following the payment of £25m to the Scheme.
- Advising Cobb Europe and the Trustees of the Cobb Pension Scheme in relation to a Part 8 claim and then the complex implementation of the court approved compromise.
‘Probably the premier firm for pensions litigation‘, CMS has a stellar reputation for handling Part 7 professional negligence claims, but it also has strength in matters involving the pensions regulator and ombudsman. The group is led by Mark Grant, who also chairs the pensions ombudsman liaison group, and has a strong track-record in professional negligence claims; also an area of expertise for Neil Smith (‘has deep and wide knowledge of the area and really good strategic vision‘), who is also noted for Part 8 cases and rectification matters. Neal Gibson, who clients rate for combining ‘pensions knowledge with general litigation nous‘, has a practice that involves representing pension scheme clients at the first instance and in the Court of Appeal. Tim Green combines pensions advisory expertise with knowledge of pensions disputes, and has recent experience assisting an employer client with its judicial review case. Senior associate Alexandra Tomlinson is also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
Neil Smith; Neal Gibson; Keith Webster; Mark Atkinson; Simon Pilcher; Tim Green; Alexandra Tomlinson
‘Experienced team, with experience of pension issues across various industries.’
‘Neal Gibson combines pension knowledge with general litigation nous.’
‘CMS is probably the premier firm for pensions litigation. It is run differently to many practices in that the litigation is usually run from within the pensions team, as opposed to from the litigation team. Their litigators often also do non-contentious pensions work. That means they have a much better understanding of the subject matter of the dispute and of the practical aspects of running pension schemes. This is critical in pensions disputes as the subject matter is very technical and the cases are often limited to points of law rather than necessarily fact heavy.’
‘Tim Green is extremely user friendly and responsive. Tim has a great technical but also practical mind. Keith Webster is extremely bright but also very measured and commercial.’
‘The CMS team has unrivalled depth and strength, enabling them to deliver not only the necessary expertise but also the flexibility to meet a client’s needs with however many lawyers, at whatever level, is required. This will often be only one or at most two, but in complex cases, in particular litigation, this can expand as necessary. From my perspective, I would rate their attention to detail and overall client care very highly.’
‘The general standard at CMS is very high, but particular mention must go to Neil Smith, in the London Office, who has deep and wide knowledge of the area and really good strategic vision. For the associates, I would especially recommend Alex Tomlinson.’
‘Incredible strength in depth that is unmatched by any other firm.’
‘Neil Smith is a feared litigator who fights every case as if his life depends on it. Alexandra Tomlinson is an excellent senior associate who knows every corner of her case.’
Aon Hewitt Limited
Legal & General
Atos Pension Schemes Limited
Entrust Pensions Limited
Punter Southall Governance Services
Willis Towers Watson
Independent Trustee Services Limited
Motor Industry Pension Plan
Trustee of the Reynards UK Pension Scheme
Oasis Community Services
Trustee of the Scottish Solicitors’ Staff Pension Fund
Board of the Pension Protection Fund
- Representing Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited in a case where some active members of the scheme crowdfunded an application to the High Court seeking permission to challenge a number of decisions of the Universities Superannuation Scheme trustee and its directors.
- Acting for the Trustee of the Reynards UK Pension Scheme in relation to innovative proceedings to trigger a third insolvency event of the employer to facilitate entry of the scheme into a PPF assessment period.
Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP fields ‘a technically astute, commercial, and very responsive and proactive team‘ that represents trustees, employers, administrators, life offices and banks , working closely with the firm’s non-contentious pensions practice to provide coverage of the waterfront of pensions disputes. The group is well-versed in construction and rectification proceedings, pensions mis-selling claims, judicial reviews of public sector pensions legislation, enforcement proceedings initiated by the regulator and internal investigations relating to governance. The group is also able to handle ancillary matters, such as disputes arising from data privacy issues. Taking the lead from London is Claire Carroll (provides ‘excellent tactical advice‘), who is experienced in professional liability cases, in addition to pensions disputes more broadly. Jennifer Miles, also in London, handles professional negligence claims for claimants and defendants, as well as issues before the pensions ombudsman and regulator. In Birmingham, Emma King focuses on liability risk reduction for legacy defined benefit pensions, as well as consolidating pension arrangements; while principal associate Daniel Murphy is active in rectification claims and professional negligence cases.
Other key lawyers:
Jennifer Miles; Emma King; Daniel Murphy; Richard Bacon; Felicity Rich
‘Technically astute, commercial, and very responsive and proactive team. Provide good value for money. I would recommend them.’
‘Claire Carroll is very approachable, excellent tactical advice, commercial, responsive and a supportive partner to in-house lawyers. A pleasure to work with. Richard Bacon – Technically excellent, proactive, not afraid of getting stuck into the detail, approachable and supportive. Together, Claire and Richard make an excellent team and they are pleasure to work with.’
‘Claire Carroll knows the pensions industry as well as anyone in the market, and runs a case with breath-taking efficiency and sophistication. She should be the first port of call for anyone with a pensions issue.’
‘Exceptional depth and breadth of experience, encompassing both occupational and personal pension schemes. The pensions disputes team benefits enormously from being part of the firm’s Financial Services Disputes and Investigations (FSDI) department and the synergies that generates.’
‘Claire Carroll is a big name in the field: commercial, savvy, very experienced and an adept multi-tasker. Jennifer Miles is a skilled negotiator and a delight to work with: you’d want her on your side going into any mediation. Richard Bacon is extremely hard working, great technical knowledge, unflappable, very personable.’
‘The disputes team is excellent and they seem to maintain very close links with the non-contentious pensions colleagues so have a great depth and breadth of pensions knowledge. As well as their legal skill set, I have found them invaluable in explaining to us the necessary process and formalities required. As pension trustees we need to use dispute resolution lawyers only rarely so we need that support.’
‘Claire Carrol is leading for us on a court matter and has been excellent, both in her technical work but importantly in working with our diverse trustee board to keep us up to date with the process.’
Standard Life Assurance Limited & Standard Life Trustee Company Limited
Options UK Personal Pensions LLP (formerly Carey Pensions UK LLP) / Options Pension Trustees UK Limited
Aviva Life & Pensions UK Limited
Financial Services Compensation Scheme
West Northamptonshire Council (formerly Northamptonshire County Council)
Aviva Life & Pensions UK Limited
Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited
- Acting for the representative beneficiary members of two Legal & General pension schemes. The sponsoring employers of those schemes brought a claim for rectification of historic governing documents, over the period from the 1990s to 2016, regarding the provisions which provide for increases to pensions in payment during a member’s first year of retirement.
- Acting for Standard Life Assurance Limited & Standard Life Trustee Company Limited, as the SIPP provider and SIPP trustee in defending a quasi-group claim brought by eight claimants (all ex professional footballers) against 16 Defendants, all except one of which (the IFA) are pension providers/administrators/trustees, with the majority concerning SIPPs.
- Defending multiple mis-selling claims and complaints for Options UK Personal Pensions LLP and Options Pension Trustees UK Limited, including a number of high-profile FOS decisions, relating to Options’ role as a SIPP (self-invested personal pension) administrator and pension scheme trustee. Claims involve numerous complex (often offshore) investments held within SIPPs.
Hogan Lovells International LLP‘s ‘first-class, extremely knowledgeable and on the ball‘ team focuses on high-profile regulatory cases, often coordinating proceedings across multiple jurisdictions, utilising the firm’s international office network. The group has substantial experience before the pensions regulator, including in relation to less common cases relating to financial support direction. Taking the lead is ‘top of the tree‘ Angela Dimsdale Gill, who spearheads the team’s representation of ITV in complex pensions regulatory proceedings. ‘Absolutely class act‘ Nicholas Heaton acts for a mixture of trustees, employers, pensions advisors and public bodies in regulatory actions, trustee applications for directions, rectification claims and professional liability matters. The ‘energetic‘ Matthew Bullen is another contentious pensions expert, and provides the advisory pensions group with litigation support. Counsel Nathan Sherlock is also recommended for pensions regulatory disputes.
Angela Dimsdale Gill
Other key lawyers:
Nicholas Heaton; Matthew Bullen; Nathan Sherlock
‘Really first class, extremely knowledgeable and on the ball, and always courteous and professional. A real joy to work with.’
‘Angela Dimsdale Gill is top of the tree, and a true professional. A class apart from many of her rivals.’
‘The Hogan Lovells Pensions: dispute resolution team is a substantial team containing many specialist pensions litigators who have considerable non-contentious expertise as well as familiarity with professional negligence and regulatory claims. This means that key individuals are able to offer a complete pensions litigation service which is invaluable when there are parallel disputes.’
‘Nicholas Heaton is fantastic. Technically superb, he is equally adept with the detail and the big picture and never loses sight of what the client wants and what capital the other side might make of certain litigation decisions. Nathan Sherlock is a different character in terms of personality but it very bright, very hard working and diligent and is able to manage large litigation on his own. Of the other partners, Angela Dimsdale Gill is formidable and Matthew Bullen energetic.’
‘Nick Heaton is an absolutely class act. Always one step ahead in terms of tactics and with a phenomenal knowledge of both law and procedure.’
‘The Hogan Lovells pensions dispute resolution offering can’t be bettered. They have outstanding legal knowledge and vast experience of all forms of pensions-related litigation, from the Pensions Regulator’s jurisdiction to the largest Part 8 cases. With three specialist pensions litigation partners, each of exceptional ability, it’s a remarkably strong team. One of the toughest firms to be against in this sector.’
‘The ability of the team to explain extremely complex matters in a way which makes them understandable and which facilitates decision making is first class. Equally the quality and clarity of the advice given outstrips that of other firms experienced.’
‘Exceptional attention to detail and partner engagement.’
HIG Capital and Silentnight Group Limited
De La Rue
Trustee of the Nortel Networks UK Pension Plan
The Board of the Pension Protection Fund
- Representing ITV in pension regulatory proceedings that are of significant importance in the regulatory field and for UK plc generally.
- Acting for Silentnight Group Limited and various entities within the US-based HIG Capital group of companies in the defence of regulatory proceedings brought by the UK Pensions Regulator.
- Acted for FTSE-listed banknote printer De La Rue in a construction application seeking clarity as to the true meaning of an obscure provision in its pensions scheme Rules.
Linklaters LLP is known for handling high-profile pensions litigation and regulatory disputes, with the team commended by clients for being ‘able to deal with high-quality technical and substantial pensions cases‘. In addition, the group is well-versed in mediation. The team is led by Mark Blyth, who has substantial experience before the pensions regulator and pension protection fund, with a focus on scheme funding and restructuring issues, benefit redesigns, the construction of scheme rules, rectifications, and representing clients bringing professional negligence claims. Blyth is ably supported by managing associate Sarah Opie, who has recent experience in rectification and regulatory enforcement cases; and solicitor-advocate Geoff Egerton, an expert in acting for trustees, employers and professional advisers in professional negligence claims.
Other key lawyers:
Sarah Opie; Geoff Egerton; Tom Kent
‘Mark Blyth brings a depth of pensions knowledge to the table combined with excellent litigation skills which help to facilitate innovative and effective outcomes.’
‘Linklaters is able to deal with high quality technical and substantial pensions cases. It typically acts for blue chip corporate employers with substantial pensions schemes, but also act for trustees of large pension schemes. As a result they have acted in many of the largest and high-profile pensions cases of recent years.’
‘Mark Blyth is very clever, always on top of the papers and well organised. he is also a tough negotiator. Sarah Opie provides support on the more technical areas of pensions law. She is both clever and very knowledgeable.’
Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund
- Acted for the Trustee of Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund and commenced a complex multi-party High Court proceeding to determine the entitlement of members to ill-health early retirement pensions.
- Acted for KPMG LLP in relation to two formal investigations by the FRC and ICAEW, following complaints made by the Pensions Regulator, in connection with advice over the sale of Silentnight to the private equity company HIG in 2011.
Pinsent Masons LLP
Pinsent Masons LLP stands out for its regulatory expertise, ability to handle the spectrum of pension-related civil and criminal offences, and issues relating to data subject access requests and ESG requirements. The group is regularly instructed on high-profile cases, with recent matters including representing beneficiaries in group actions, and trustees in multi-jurisdictional cases involving multiple schemes. ‘First-class’ national pensions litigation team head Isabel Nurse-Marsh is an expert in professional negligence claims, representing clients before the pensions ombudsman and in judicial reviews. Hayley Goldstone, who clients rate as ‘a talented litigator with excellent commercial and strategic judgment‘, acts for trustees, employers, providers and administrators across the pensions disputes space; while Ben Fairhead is known for asset recovery work, actions involving the pensions regulator and professional negligence cases.
Other key lawyers:
Hayley Goldstone; Ben Fairhead; Liam Fitzgerald; Laura Crilly
‘Isabel Nurse-Marsh is a first class individual in this area.’
‘The whole team have been proactive and very user friendly in their liaison with the client, we have had some complex issues to deal with and the team have been great.’
‘Hayley Goldstone has been working with us on this for five plus years now and has been outstanding in her dealings with us and the other parties involved.’
‘Depth of experience, large enough team to properly resource significant matters.’
‘Isabel Nurse-Marsh inspires confidence with depth of pensions knowledge and experience. Strong leader who brings her team along with her.’
‘The Pinsent Masons pensions dispute resolution team is outstanding for its breadth of expertise and experience, having covered everything from the largest Pensions Regulator investigations to the biggest rectification projects or most technical of Part 8 claims. They are firmly solutions-oriented, helping clients to find the cleanest solutions to any problem, always ready to think laterally. Ably led by Isabel Nurse-Marsh. Pinsent Masons are a first choice for industry insiders ‘in the know’. There is no form of pension litigation and regulatory action that they have not encountered before.’
‘Isabel Nurse-Marsh is a highly experienced and well-respected litigator with a specialism in pensions. Hayley Goldstone always knows her cases inside out and brings real tenacity and drive to every case.’
‘Hayley Goldstone is a talented litigator with excellent commercial and strategic judgment. Isabel Nurse-Marsh is a superb tactician, very good with procedural skirmishes in litigation. Ben Fairhead has exceptional knowledge on the regulatory side and is incredibly well respected in the industry, contributing to the Pension Scams Industry Group guidance. He has a calm assured manner and is a pleasure to work with.’
Univar UK Limited
Dalriada Trustees Limited
Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund representative beneficiaries
Trustee of the Newell Rubbermaid UK Pension Scheme
Mercer Limited and Mercer (Ireland) Limited
Jardine Lloyd Thomsons (JLT) Benefit Solutions Limited
Trustee of the Plumbing & Mechanical Services (UK) Industry Pension Scheme
Nortel Networks UK Pension Trust Limited
Royal Bank of Scotland Retirement Savings Plan
- Acting for thousands of beneficiaries of the Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund in a case about underpaid ill health benefits spanning 30 years. Settlement approved by High Court involving £60m+.
- Acting for Dalriada Trustees Limited in multi-jurisdictional and multifaceted litigation involving over 100 schemes with over £250m at stake.
- Advising a market leader on a complex matter spanning decades with linked professional negligence proceedings.
At ‘highly collaborative‘ pensions boutique Sacker & Partners LLP, the disputes piece consists of High Court litigation, regulatory investigations, risk management work, data breaches and disputes with members and advisers. The team is regularly instructed in matters involving the pensions ombudsman. Taking the lead is Peter Murphy, an expert in the powers of the pensions regulator, in relation to regulatory investigations and enforcement activity. ‘A clear and stable guiding light‘, James Bingham handles the gamut of pensions disputes for major UK pension funds, including High Court claims, regulatory investigations, member claims and complaints before the pensions ombudsman. Clients rate senior counsel Arshad Khan for being ‘easy to talk with, understanding the intricacies and able to help with detailed opinions that are straightforward, relevant and easy to understand‘.
Other key lawyers:
James Bingham; Arshad Khan
‘James Bingham has been a clear and stable guiding light in the approach to dispute resolution. From the beginning he was clear about the challenges and prospect for success and has been consistent with his message throughout. He also showed great patience with his client as details slipped from their minds over time and he helped them recall previous discussions.’
‘The Sackers team are highly collaborative – as well as working closely together and bringing in in-house experts for key advice, they listen to understand client’s’ needs and respond in a professional and client focused way. Sackers are good at citing practical examples of either case law or similar situations. They break down complexity, avoid side issues and concentrate on key points. As such, they provide advice in a timely and cost effective way. Sackers do not hide behind legal jargon, but instead communicate at a laypersons level without coming over patronising. In this way, they get the best from a client-advisor relationship.’
‘I have mostly dealt with James Bingham. As he has got to know the trustees well, he has honed his advice in a very clear and focused way. From my perspective, James’ response time is excellent and where he is unable to respond with advice immediately he ensures that he communicates when he will get back. James has often drafted legal letters on my behalf and on all occasions these have been drafted in a style and tone that I had to make few changes to. This demonstrates that he understands his clients needs well and responds appropriately to these.’
‘A strong team is in place. I particularly appreciate the ongoing support from Arshad Khan, who I have worked with for many years. I value his proactive approach whilst at the same time understanding our business priorities.’
‘Sackers is a go to firm for pensions litigation and advice. They have a great team of experienced lawyers who have seen it all. You always get a personal touch that can be lacking at the larger firms.’
‘James Bingham is a delight to work with. He is responsive, capable and never loses sight of what matters.’
‘The team provides an all round great service, they are friendly, easy to talk with and have a ‘can do’ attitude. They are very collaborative and whilst being advisor they feel like extension of the team.’
‘Arshad Khan has a great wealth of knowledge in the dispute resolution area. He is easy to talk with, understands the intricacies and able to help with detailed opinions that are straightforward, relevant and easy to understand.’
TfL Pension Fund
HSBC Bank (UK) Pension Scheme
John Lewis Partnership Trust for Pensions
ITV Pension Scheme
Arup UK Pension Scheme
GEAPS Pension Scheme
Nationwide Pension Fund
Yorkshire & Clydesdale Bank Pension Scheme
DHL Group Retirement Plan
GSK Pension Scheme
- Advising the Trustees of the Arup Pension Scheme in relation to the recovery of overpayments to members following administrative errors.
- Acting for long-standing client HSBC Bank (UK) Pension Scheme in a series of member claims relating to legal issues with transferring benefits out of the scheme.
- Acting for the Trustees of the GEAPS Pension Scheme in professional negligence proceedings.
Stephenson Harwood‘s pensions litigation team brings together contentious trusts, regulatory and pensions advisory lawyers. In 2021, the firm launched its executive pensions plan practice, which is increasingly active in the disputes space. The group has a strong client base comprising employers, trustees and representative beneficiaries, with substantial experience in professional negligence claims, rectification issues and construction applications. It is also known for cross-border pensions disputes, recently handling cases involving the recovery of pensions assets from overseas jurisdictions, and investigations launched by the US regulators. ‘All-round superstar’ Helena Berman heads up the team, and is noted as an ‘industry superstar‘ alongside pensions professional negligence expert Jenny McKeown. ‘Building a great profile‘, Chris Edwards-Earl is noted for rectification and construction cases.
Other key lawyers:
Jenny McKeown; Chris Edwards-Earl
‘The depth of knowledge gained in experience of a wide range of difficult cases.’
‘Helena Berman is just so experienced. It feels like she will have seen everything before and therefore is unflappable. Great practical advice in complex cases. Chris Edwards-Earl is building a great profile and has the technical knowledge to back that up.’
‘The Stephenson Harwood team are tenacious, creative, organised and totally committed to achieving the optimum outcome of any dispute. They are genuinely invested in developing long term relationships with their clients and bring a huge amount of value add beyond the specific matters on which they are instructed.’
‘Jenny McKeown and Helena Berman are industry heavyweights who are all-in for their clients and always give a clear steer on merits and tactics.’
‘The practice provides practical and sound advice that is commercially friendly with the avoidance of waffle, focusing on concise information that is clear and understandable.’
‘Jenny McKeown, heading the contentious trusts team, has been brilliantly astute: she wears her learning lightly, but her judgment calls have been faultless, knowing which strategy to pursue when and predicting accurately how the litigation will play out. She is pragmatic and solutions-oriented, delivering first-rate work cost-effectively. Helena Berman is another notable partner in that team, not afraid to back herself in picking the points to litigate. She has a strong track record in winning cases against the odds.’
‘The team at Stephenson Harwood combine the legal expertise and quality you would expect from a Magic Circle firm with a strong understanding of medium-sized entities and a much better pricing structure.’
‘Helena Berman – an all round superstar. The total package of technical excellence, commercial judgment, strategic insight and people skills. Jenny McKeown – fantastic judgment, experience and knows how to win a case.’
J.P. McDougall & Co Limited (within the AkzoNobel group of companies) and the Trustees of the J.P. McDougall & Co Limited Pension and Life Assurance Scheme
Sedgwick Noble Lowndes Limited
Trustees of the Santander schemes
- Acting for Sedgwick Noble Lowndes and Mercer Limited in defence of a negligence claim, with alleged value in excess of £100m and over 30 years of potentially invalid deeds, with a strike out/reverse summary judgment hearing.
- Acting for the Representative Beneficiary in Court proceedings that the BBC, as principal employer of the BBC Pension Scheme, is bringing for a determination of questions arising under the Scheme’s amendment power.
- Advising AkzoNobel group and the Trustees of the J.P. McDougall & Co Limited Pension and Life Assurance Scheme in the rectification of a drafting error in a pension scheme, with a view to resolving professional negligence claims arising from the drafting issues.
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP houses ‘commercial and experienced experts who are a pleasure to work with‘, handling contentious pensions issues for employers ad trustees. The group is led by Neil Bowden, who is experienced in high-profile pension equalisation cases, and includes Jessica Kerslake, Jane Higgins and Jason Shaw, all of whom have significant experience in pensions disputes.
Other key lawyers:
Andy Cork; Jane Higgins; Jessica Kerslake; Jason Shaw
‘Commercial and experienced experts who are a pleasure to work with.’
‘Jason Shaw – all round experience and capability in managing disputes in a commercial way.’
‘A&O are fantastic – a very safe pair of hands who you know will deliver excellent work product consistently.’
‘Jason Shaw – very knowledgeable and bright but also user friendly and commercial, who makes difficult concepts easy to understand.’
Clients rate Baker McKenzie‘s team for being ‘calm, methodical and professional at all times‘. It is regularly instructed in matters involving the pensions ombudsman and pensions regulator, including investigations and regulatory actions. Jeanette Holland (‘extremely good judgement combining technical excellence and commercial acumen‘) is a seasoned pensions disputes lawyer, with experience in de-risking projects. Aaron Slocombe, who is praised as ‘cool under pressure, extremely thorough and methodical in his approach to litigation‘, heads up the London pensions practice. Chantal Thompson is noted for her experience in assisting trustees with their interactions with the pensions ombudsman, and Jonathan Sharp has a niche in pensions-related tax issues.
Other key lawyers:
Arron Slocombe; Chantal Thompson; Jonathan Sharp; Gemma Willingham; Tom McNaughton
‘Calm, methodical and professional at all times. When navigating particularly contentious pensions disputes, my experience of the team is that it never loses its cool and always responds appropriately with the client’s commercial interests front and centre of everything it does.’
‘Arron Slocombe is cool under pressure, extremely thorough and methodical in his approach to litigation. I feel very secure in the knowledge that the team is well organised and that nothing will be missed.’
‘Tom McNaughton is a joy to work with. Clever, proactive and thorough.’
‘An excellent all round team providing the complete package of support and leadership.’
‘Jeanette Holland has extremely good judgment combining technical excellence and commercial acumen. Gemma Willingham is an excellent litigator with great strategic insight, technical knowledge and a pleasure to work with.’
Trustee and pension scheme clients feel that Gowling WLG‘s team is ‘good to have on your side‘ in pensions disputes, with experience in cutting edge High Court litigation, as well as a broad practice that encompasses complaints by members under internal dispute procedures and to the pensions ombudsman. The group is led by Ian Gordon, who has recent experience in high-profile cases, acting for Mitchells & Butlers Pension, Britvic Pensions and the trustees of Axminster Carpets Group Retirement Benefits Plan. Principal associate Charlotte Scholes is another key pensions disputes specialist, with expertise in rectification and construction cases, ably supporting Gordon. In January 2022, Aaron Dunning-Foreman joined from Sacker & Partners LLP and brings with him a specialism in forensic reviews of historic scheme documentation.
Other key lawyers:
Charlotte Scholes; Aaron Dunning-Foreman
‘The team provides a comprehensive service with work done at the right level. They are very well linked with counsel and have a good knowledge of the market.’
‘Ian Gordon : good team leader. Practical experience of the court process and the conduct of live hearings. Thorough and good client liaison skills. Charlotte Scholes: thorough, timely communications. Keeps clients fully engaged throughout. Demonstrates in depth expertise and clarity in explaining issues to clients.’
‘Ian Gordon, who led the Gowlings team, covered all the potential angles in a long running dispute, helping to shape the Trustee case as the Company amended its defence. Ian also helped choose and then brief counsel, so that the Trustee was best represented in Court.’
‘Ian Gordon is a clear leader in the industry. He has handled a number of key cases in the last few years and really knows his stuff.’
‘Charlotte Scholes has relatively recently moved to Gowlings. She continues to impress on contentious pensions particularly her approach to professional negligence claims. In my experience, she has an eye on the detail but also takes a pragmatic commercial approach to litigation where appropriate.’
‘The service from their pensions litigation department is good and efficient. They reply quickly to questions and are good at taking matters forward. They are also able to explain complex issues in an easy to understand way and there is strength in depth. This does not make them unique – ultimately they are good to have on your side.’
‘Ian Gordon gives a case 110%, really gets stuck in, totally committed, a “details man”. Charlotte Scholes (principal associate) – conscientious, very personable and easy to work with. Aaron Dunning-Foreman (principal associate) – switched on, full of ideas.’
‘My experience has been very positive. Commercial, pro-active and very clear in their explanation of the issues and process. Strength in depth and a thorough knowledge of pensions.’
Mitchells & Butlers Pensions Limited
Britvic Pensions Limited
Punter Southall Governance Services Limited (trustee of the Axminster Carpets Group Retirement Benefits Plan)
The Trustees of the Thales UK Pension Scheme
The Trustee of KPMG Staff Pension Fund
- Represented Mitchells & Butlers Pensions Limited in its litigation against Mitchells Butlers plc.
- Acted for Punter Southall Governance Services Limited, the trustee of the Axminster Carpets Group Retirement Benefits Plan, in a pensions case that raised a number of issues of industry-wide significance, including the effect of the failure to obtain an actuarial confirmation under section 37 of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 and the circumstances in which pensions are forfeit under the Plan’s rules.
- Acted for Britvic Pensions Limited (trustee of the Britvic Pension Plan) in litigation against Britvic plc. This was another case in a long line of cases in which the courts have had to consider the scope of the employer’s powers to change the rate at which pension increases are granted.
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP‘s lawyers are praised by clients as ‘able to quickly pick up technically complex issues and quickly identify solutions or potential approaches‘, with tent-pole clients including the board of the pension protection fund, which it has recently represented in matters stemming from pension liberation scams. The group has a strong professional negligence practice, and is often instructed by City law firms in a defence role, an area of expertise for practice co-head Paul Lewis. Samantha Brown also takes the lead, and is experienced in representing claimants and defendants in High Court disputes and declaratory proceedings. The firm was re-joined by William Glassey from Mayer Brown International LLP in December 2021, adding an expert in professional liability. Promoted to partner in May 2022, Antonia Pegden is another key practitioner.
Paul Lewis; Samantha Brown
Other key lawyers:
William Glassey; John Whiteoak; Antonia Pegden; Dan Saunders
‘Able to quickly pick up technically complex issues and quickly identify solution or potential approaches. Focus on the matter at hand and avoid adding extra complexity.’
‘Samantha Brown has a wide range of industry expertise, including advising trustee, corporate and insurance company clients which she brings to bear. Helps us get set out clear negotiation position and get to constructive solutions.’
‘Dan Saunders is able to explain complex issues in clear and concise manner. Very sharp and able to provide good response or challenge on the spot.’
‘Sam Brown is a dream to work with – incredibly smart and decisive. Dan Saunders is a rising star, able to totally immerse himself in complex matters involving technical issues.’
‘Good team. Great leadership.’
‘Sam Brown is a great leader, driving her team and any litigation forward. Very outcome focused. Great tactical nous. Great commercial insight. Antonia Pegden has been involved in some of the biggest cases in recent years. Very able. Good litigator.’
‘A very strong combination of pensions and litigation experience.’
‘Sam Brown, head of pensions, is a class act and knows all there is to know. Antonia Pegden, recently promoted to partner, is an excellent litigator with huge experience.’
The Board of the Pension Protection Fund
Stagecoach Group plc
Timewise Foundation C.I.C
The Trustees of the Hanover Acceptances Group Pension Scheme and Hanover Acceptances Limited
Timewise Foundation C.I.C
JLT Wealth Management
Willis Towers Watson
- Represented Stagecoach plc in litigation relating to the Secretary of State for Transport’s decision to disqualify it from bidding for future rail franchises due to its refusal to take on uncapped pension liability.
In 2022, Osborne Clarke LLP brought over the pensions team from BDB Pitmans, welcoming pensions disputes lawyers including Chris Netiatis, who is based in the firm’s Reading office. The group represents employers, trustees, members and pensions advisers on the gamut of contentious issues, with a particular strength in professional negligence, rectification and construction applications. The group is led from Bristol by Jonathan Hazlett, who is experienced in internal dispute resolution procedures and references to the pensions ombudsman. Charles Crowne has an active professional negligence practice; and specialist pensions litigator, associate director Katherine King is noted for handling rectification claims and professional negligence actions.
Other key lawyers:
Charles Crowne; Paul Matthews; Katherine King; Charlotte Stafford
‘They have considerable expertise and experience as pensions litigators, particularly acting for representative beneficiaries. Their approach is thorough, technically sound, sensible and proportionate, which is exactly what one would want from a firm acting on behalf of members.’
‘We have worked with and had good experiences of Charles Crowne and Katherine King in particular.’
‘The OC team are very experienced at representing representative beneficiaries. Jonathan Hazlett provides a superb lead – he has very sound judgement. Charlotte Stafford is excellent: very diligent and clever. Katherine King is first rate: very quick and to the point. As a whole, the team know the importance of trying to stick to estimates and keeping an eye on costs. They are very sensible and don’t over-complicate things.’
‘An excellent team. They have a depth and breadth of practice which is top class. Very able people covering all areas of pensions. And the cherry on the cake is that they are thoroughly nice to deal with.’
‘Jonathan Hazlett – a star performer. Very bright, an exceptional project manager, clear and commercial.’
‘Exceptional knowledge of PPF. Very balanced team able to provide top-notch service.’
‘Jonathan Hazlett, very classy operator who is able to call upon an exceptional knowledge of PPF operations. Charles Crowne is a great client partner, outcome focused. Katherine King is a terrific lawyer, definitely on the path to greatness – analytical mind and an attention to detail.’
‘A rare combination of excellent knowledge of the subject matter and great practical litigation skills and experience.’
Representative defendant of the membership of Axminster Carpets Group Retirement Benefits Plan
Representative beneficiary of the membership of the De La Rue Pension Scheme
Trustees of the T&N Retirement Benefits Scheme (1989)
The Board of the Pension Protection Fund
Trustees of the Boxclever Group Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Old British Steel Pension Scheme
Scottish Widows Plc
- Acted for a representative beneficiary in declaratory proceedings concerning the validity and effect of scheme amendment documents in relation to pension increase provisions.
- Acted for the representative beneficiary of the membership to the De La Rue Pension Scheme in complex Part 8 construction proceedings concerning drafting errors in relation to the pension increases in payment and revaluation rules in three separate deeds.
- Represented the trustees of the T&N Retirement Benefits Scheme (1989) in relation to Employment Tribunal proceedings arising out of the application of PPF restrictions to 17 scheme members whose benefits were subject to the PPF compensation cap when Federal Mogul entered insolvency.
Slaughter and May utilises the expertise of its commercial litigation and pensions lawyers in pensions disputes, with a case list that includes judicial reviews, investigations and proceedings initiated by the pensions regulator, as well as professional negligence claims and mediation proceedings, benefits disputes and ombudsman complaints. Core team members include ‘confidence-inspiring‘ commercial litigator Richard Jeens, who represents trustees and employers in a wide variety of disputes and investigations; and Daniel Schaffer, who trustee clients rate for his ‘depth and breadth of experience and clarity in communicating the key issues‘. Senior associate Edward Coles, who has recent experience in investigations before the pensions regulator; while associate Rachel Hunter is increasingly active in the space.
Other key lawyers:
Dan Schaffer; Edward Coles; Rachel Hunter
‘The team is extremely responsive and very personable, making them (from a client perspective) a pleasure to deal with. I have been particularly impressed by the intellectual clarity and structure which underpins their legal analysis and advice. This greatly contributes to them being able to communicate effectively with us. This is allied with a formidable approach to negotiations. Crucially, the link between the pensions and dispute resolution specialists in the team is seamless.’
‘Richard Jeens has led for us on the disputes side. From a client perspective, he is extremely straightforward to deal with, and has a very firm grasp of both the details and the strategic big picture. He is very bright and commercially aware, and highly responsive. He is also a really excellent communicator.’
‘Highly sophisticated team, with both transactional and advisory/litigation capabilities in the pension sphere.’
‘Dan Schaffer is the leading intellect among London pension solicitors. He is tireless in exploring every angle that might serve a client’s commercial agenda.’
‘They need no introduction. You go to Slaughter and May for them to get the job done, and done exceptionally well.’
‘Strength in depth and calibre of the people are outstanding.’
‘Dan Schaffer in particular is a stand-out advisor. His depth and breadth of experience and clarity in communicating the key issues is invaluable in advising the trustees.’
‘Very cohesive and exceptional quality team. Excellent communication and draw out key points for non-specialists. Very effective relationships with Counsel and high quality instruction.’
Trustee of the BT Pension Scheme
Trustees of the Ford Pension Schemes
Trustees of the Marks and Spencer Pension Scheme
Railways Pension Trustee Company Limited, the Trustee of the Railways Pension Scheme
- Advising the Trustees of the BT Pension Scheme, Ford Pension Schemes and Marks and Spencer Pension Scheme in relation to their application for a judicial review of the UK Statistics Authority’s decision to align RPI with CPIH from 2030.
- Advising Railways Pension Trustee Company Limited, the Trustee of the industry-wide Railways Pension Scheme, in relation to a dispute over contributions provisions and a connected investigation by the Pensions Regulator.
‘Consistently strong with litigation work‘, Squire Patton Boggs‘ team is adept at contentious regulatory and fraud-related pensions work, with additional expertise in professional negligence cases, where it represents trustees and employers in bringing claims. Tax disputes and data protection issues concerning pension schemes are other niches for the group, which also has a growing risk management focus. Leading the department from Manchester is ‘excellent case strategist‘ Victoria Leigh, who is active in pension disputes thought leadership. Also in Manchester, senior associate Rebecca Green is building a practice that involves pension-related professional negligence claims. In Birmingham, Simon Garbett acts for employer and trustee clients across the waterfront of contentious pensions issues. In Leeds, Jason Blakey has experience in representing companies involved in pensions liberation fraud cases.
Other key lawyers:
Simon Garbett; Jason Blakey; Rebecca Green; Mariyam Harunah
‘Victoria Leigh and Rebecca Green have been excellent in their approach in helping me to understand the processes and what is happening in terms that I am able to understand.’
‘Consistently strong with litigation work, I have extensive experience of SPB’s Manchester Office and it has been uniformly excellent. Equally at home with corporate or individual clients, in my experience they tend to go the extra mile wherever possible to ensure they best understand and meet a client’s needs.’
‘Victoria Leigh stands out first and foremost because of her ability to analyse complex case issues with considerable skill but then explain them to lay clients in a manner which is fully intelligible without being shrouded in legal terminology. Secondly, she is an excellent case strategist. Finally, she has always been genuinely keen to provide excellent client service across the board. As to associates, I would strongly recommend Mariyam Harunah.’
‘The team is headed by Victoria Leigh who is simply one of my favourite people to work with. She is clever, hardworking, practical, treats her associates well and is well-liked by the bar, judiciary and other firms. Of the associates, Rebecca Green has deservedly been described as a rising star and is cut from the same cloth as Victoria.’
‘Superb pensions team covering all aspects of high quality pensions litigation.’
‘Victoria Leigh is one of the best pensions partners in the country. Combines intelligence and hugely impressive legal knowledge with attention to detail and superb client skills. Someone you want on your side in pensions litigation.’
‘Mariyam Harunah is very much a stand out associate. Very bright and engaged, combining excellence on the law with a strong commercial approach.’
Jaguar Land Rover Pension Scheme
Greater Manchester Pension Fund
Representative Beneficiary of the Cobb Pension Scheme
Representative Beneficiary of the CMG Pension Scheme
Representative Beneficiary of the Newell Rubbermaid UK Pension Scheme
Thames Water Pension Trustees Limited
- Acting for a representative member of the Parker and Sanford section of the Newell Rubbermaid UK Pension Scheme in a claim brought by the trustee seeking clarification from the court as to whether members of the Parker Pen Pension Plan who were under 45 who transferred from the final salary section to a money purchase section had their benefits transferred correctly.
- Advised a representative member of the CMG UK Pension Scheme on an application for an order rectifying certain definitions in the Scheme’s Rules annexed to a Deed of Variation.
- Completed the successful defence of a Scheme member’s appeal of a Pensions Ombudsman’s decision, determining that the Scheme member was not entitled to a cash equivalent transfer enhanced to take into account Serious Ill Health Pension benefits.
Addleshaw Goddard‘s pensions disputes group is positioned to handle litigation arising out of SIPPs, SSAS and pensions products, as well as instructions related to pensions liberation and fraud. The group is also well-versed in data breach issues relating to pensions. The team is led from Manchester by Susan Garrett (who has ‘the sort of experience you cannot buy‘), who is an expert in professional negligence claims, in addition to pensions liberation and fraud cases, and warranty and indemnity claims. In Leeds, Rachel Uttley focuses on internal dispute resolution procedures and pension ombudsman claims, while Jade Murray, head of the SIPPs and pension products team, acts for trustees and administrators in a variety of contentious issues. Rachel Rawnsley is also in Leeds and has a strong trustee client base and London’s Catherine McAllister is the name to note for court applications seeking directions and rectification.
Other key lawyers:
Rachel Uttley; Jade Murray; Rachel Rawnsley; Catherine McAllister
‘Strong team, good balance of technical pensions knowledge and litigation experience. Involved in some big cases in recent years.’
‘Catherine McAllister has great pensions know-how, leading light in resolving the mess caused by GMP equalisation. Jade Murray is respected across the industry, commercial awareness and able to identify novel solutions to otherwise intractable problems.’
‘The pensions dispute team are a delight to work with. They are a dynamic and holistic team, feeding expertise from the advisory side where necessary, as well as being great team players. Their pensions expertise stands out in a competitive market.’
‘I also worked with Catherine McAllister who is on the advisory side of the team and her knowledge of the territory was remarkable. She is great to work with and has a knack for grounding abstract legal issues firmly in practice, which is invaluable during trials.’
‘The team is very conscious of client expectations, particularly in relation to costs, and works hard to meet and manage them. The members are hard-working and put in the necessary hours, particularly when deadlines approach, but also try to plan ahead to avoid difficulties. The team overall is one of the larger pensions teams in my experience and is able to draw on additional resources of personnel when pressure of work demands it.’
‘Susan Garrett – a litigation partner with the sort of experience you cannot buy.’
‘The Addleshaw Goddard team are smart, friendly and efficient and were brilliant at getting me up to speed quickly for a rectification application.’
‘Catherine McAllister and Susan Garrett are stand out individuals – they are brilliant at quickly getting on top of all the issues, ask the right questions and also lovely people to work with.’
Toyota Material Handling UK Limited
The Trustees of the BT Rolatruc Staff Life Assurance and Pension Scheme
Trustee of the Asda Group Pension Scheme
CMG Pension Trustees Limited
Trustee of the Mercer Master Trust
Pension Insurance Corporation
Trustee of the Kellogg GB Pension Fund
Rothermere Continuation Limited (shareholder of Daily Mail and General Trust Plc)
Trustee of the Ibstock Pension Scheme
Trustee of the Royal Blind Group Pension Scheme
Financial Services Compensation Scheme
- Successfully acted for Britvic plc in an appeal to the Court of Appeal concerning the interpretation of the pension scheme’s deed and rules.
- Acting for Toyota Material Handling UK Limited and the Trustees of the BT Rolatruc Staff Life Assurance and Pension Scheme in a professional negligence claim against their former advisor, Mercer Limited.
- Acted for CMG Pension Trustees Limited in two sets of court proceedings concerning the CMG UK Pension Scheme.
Clyde & Co
Clyde & Co has a stand-out reputation for professional negligence claims arising from the pensions sector, drawing from the firm’s stellar professional indemnity capabilities. The group is also instructed on remedial proceedings for declaratory relief, and claims related to the failed execution and defective drafting of scheme documentation, and cases concerning defective advising on scheme restructurings and mergers. Pensions trustee liability insurance claims are another key area for the firm. Ivan Wilkinson is a main contact, and is noted for his strong track-record in professional liability issues; Laura Cooke focuses on pension trustee liability work, with a practice that involves pension mis-selling claims; while Terry Saeedi, who splits her time between London and Leeds, has experience in professional negligence actions and appeals to the pensions ombudsman. Fergal Cathie coordinates the overall practice.
Other key lawyers:
Ivan Wilkinson; Laura Cooke; Terry Saeedi; Toby Rouse; Sarah Clover
‘Their peerless expertise in professional negligence pensions cases makes them a strong choice for the hardest cases. Their strategic vision has been exceptional, as has the resource which they have been able to deploy in massive disclosure exercises; and their case management and negotiation skills to close a settlement were exceptional.’
‘Ivan Wilkinson has been exceptional in the cases we’ve worked on together. He was measured, astute, considered and precise. He managed the case brilliantly, inspiring the large team around him as a great team leader. Tireless, he didn’t put a foot wrong.’
‘The absolute leaders in relation to professional negligence in the pensions context. Second to none.’
‘Ivan Wilkinson is an exceptional lawyer, thorough, detailed and inspired. Adds value every time he opens a file. Top man. The guy i would want to represent me if ever the moment arises! Sarah Clover is the very best. Strategic, knowledgeable, classy.’
‘Class leaders in professional negligence cases involving pension schemes.’
‘Ivan Wilkinson is a very able lawyer with excellent judgement. Toby Rouse is experienced with a solid background in pensions law.’
‘Detailed knowledge about the complex issues relating to pensions litigation, coupled with commercial pragmatism.’
‘Ivan Wilkinson has in depth knowledge of pensions issues whilst bringing sound commercial judgment to professional negligence issues.’
‘Punching above its weight’, the pensions dispute group at Dentons handles contentious issues for employers and trustees, concerning both defined benefit and defined contribution schemes. Lawyers bring to bear experience as non-contentious pensions practitioners, giving them a well-rounded view of the area. The team is situated in the people, reward and mobility department, under the leadership of Virginia Allen. Eleanor Hart is the UK head of the rewards sub-group, and is the key contact for pensions disputes, often representing trustee clients. The ‘refreshingly upbeat and candid‘ Elmer Doonan is a seasoned contentious pensions specialist, with particular expertise in the intersection between insolvency and pensions law.
Virginia Allen; Eleanor Hart
Other key lawyers:
‘The Dentons pensions team is relatively small but punches above its weight. The pensions non-contentious team is led by Eleanor Hart who has a wealth of experience in restructuring and similar issues. On the disputes side, the firm has been involved in a mix of high-profile matters and (unusually) also ones of national importance.’
‘Consultant Elmer Doonan seems as busy as ever. He is refreshingly upbeat, candid and fun to work with and brings an unusual tax and other technical expertise with the instincts of a litigator. It is rare that he needs to call on the non-litigious experience of Eleanor Hart and her team, but it is a useful resource when required.’
‘Elmer Doonan is a wise and experienced elder statesman.’
Government Legal Department / Ministry of Justice
Edinburgh Woollen Mill
Ministry of Defence
Cognita Schools Limited
Arriva Rail North Limited
NHS Business Services Authority
Sumitomo Corporation Europe Limited
Voestalpine Turnout Technology UK Limited
Trustees of the Basil E Leeder & Sons Limited Pension Scheme
Grant Thornton UK LLP
That Bournemouth Company 3 Limited
BCA Pension Trustees Ltd
- Successfully agreed a compromise on behalf of the Trustees of the BCA Pension Scheme in order to compromise a section 75 debt claim against the employers.
- Successfully advised a client on a scheme sanction charge imposed by HMRC in respect of a registered pension scheme which included detailed analysis and advice of the relevant complex statutory and regulatory provisions, along with the limited case law on the area connected to permitted investments.
- Advising a company in administration on an investigation from the Pensions Regulator that the restructuring of the company’s business was detrimental to its pension scheme.
Mayer Brown International LLP‘s pensions disputes practice spans member complaints, matters before the pensions ombudsman, High Court litigation and regulatory investigations, and it also handles rectifications and overpayment cases. Another core area for the group is professional negligence claims against pensions professionals, frequently defending pension scheme advisers. Stuart Pickford predominantly acts for trustee clients, in addition to defending pensions-related professional negligence cases. He co-heads the contentious pensions offering with Tim Shepherd, another professional negligence expert. Senior associate Tom Wild brings with him experience on the pensions advisory side to support Pickford and Shepherd.
Stuart Pickford; Tim Shepherd
Other key lawyers:
‘Experienced in pensions litigation especially acting for trustees where they have great expertise.’
‘Stuart Pickford is intelligent and has good judgment.’
Pension Protection Fund
Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund Trustees Limited
Reed Elsevier Pensions Trustees Limited
Massey Ferguson Works Pension Trust Limited
Kingfisher Pension Trustee Limited
Santander (UK) Group Pension Scheme Trustees Limited
JMEPS Trustees Limited
Prudential Staff Pensions Limited
BOC Pension Scheme Trustees Limited
- Defended pensions professionals and other consultants in relation to a range of professional negligence claims.
- Advised the trustee on the management and successful resolution of a governance dispute regarding the appointment of trustee directors and related intervention by the Pensions Regulator.
- Advising trustees on a long-running dispute with a member, including oversight of court proceedings to secure evidence, the involvement of the Information Commissioner and the successful defence of a complaint to the Pensions Ombudsman.
Taylor Wessing LLP‘s team is most noted for handling pensions fraud cases, with a depth of experience in suspected pension liberation schemes. The group has a strong client list of pensions trustees, and is also adept in contentious pensions-related work flowing from company restructurings. Mark Smith is the overall head of the wider pensions team, as well as pensions litigation; he has a strong track-record in pensions fraud cases.
‘With multiple disputes stretching back over many years, Taylor Wessing had a huge task in overseeing progress on each dispute with different aspects for each dispute. Their ability to keep on top of every detail and provide advice in a timely manner and to ultimately secure us a win was truly remarkable.’
‘Mark Smith is that rare thing – a lawyer that even a lay person can understand! Although the issues involved in our pensions dispute were very complex and stretching over many years, Mark was able to succinctly explain them to our board of trustees in a manner that was useful to the professional trustees but also accessible to non-professional trustees like me. His advice steered us successfully to a positive outcome and his patience and professionalism is much appreciated.’
‘Extremely responsive, with clear easy to follow guidance and advice.’
‘Key contact is partner, Mark Smith, who is responsive, professional and excellent at communicating advice and respected by the Trustee Board.’
‘Mark Smith has great knowledge, and gives clear explanations.’
‘A smaller team than some but makes up for that in terms of quality of service.’
‘Mark Smith is a very hands on and closely engaged partner, to the great benefit of his clients. He thinks out of the box and is a superb client man.’
‘The team has excellent non-contentious knowledge to complement its litigation and long-standing experience in pensions fraud issues.’
Independent Trustee Services Limited
- Advising the trustee of a large pension scheme in connection with a possible use of powers by The Pensions Regulator in relation to the refinancing of an employer group.
- Advising a number of employers on engagement with The Pensions Regulator as a result of significant breaches of the auto enrolment legislation.
- Advising the trustees of a number of pension schemes on the settlement of claims against former administrators and advisers in connection with historic benefits errors.
TLT‘s team is integrated into the broader pensions department, combining contentious and non-contentious pensions specialists. It works closely with scheme employers and trustees in a litigation support role, where court or ombudsman actions are involved. An area of particular activity is professional negligence claims, where it represents employers and their scheme trustees in claims against legal and actuarial advisers. Also of note are declarations and rectifications, where the group has particular expertise. Sasha Butterworth leads the national pensions department from the Bristol office, and is an expert in risk reduction and governance issues. She jointly leads the disputes team with Victoria Mabbett, whose experience spans professional negligence claims, construction and rectification matters. Ed Fiddick is another seasoned litigation lawyer.
Sasha Butterworth; Victoria Mabbett
Other key lawyers:
Ed Fiddick; Paul Gair; Kate Ward; Jack Hargreaves
‘Very approachable, bespoke client care, but just the right size and so are reassuringly well resourced.’
‘Vicky Mabbett is somewhat of a super woman. Huge energy levels, great attention to detail – she is a real rainmaker.’
‘I have found the team to be well-organised and practical in ensuring the litigation is conducted efficiently.’
The Trustees of the Leggett and Platt UK Pension and Assurance Scheme
Pullmaflex U.K. Limited
Trustees of the Wandel & Goltermann Retirement Benefits Scheme
- Acting for the Trustees of the Wandel & Goltermann Retirement Benefits Scheme in a claim seeking the Court’s declarations in relation to the interpretation of a provision in the governing Scheme documents.
- Acting for Pullmaflex U.K. Limited and the Trustees of the Leggett and Platt UK Pension and Assurance Scheme in bringing professional negligence claims against their former legal and actuarial advisors.
- Advising members of the Bic Pension Scheme in respect of the widely-reported proceedings issued by the sponsoring employer for declarations as to the validity of several scheme amendments and the consequential recovery of substantial alleged overpayments.
Ashurst‘s pensions disputes team has a comprehensive practice that revolves around defined benefit and defined contribution schemes, handling all aspects of contentious pensions issues. The group is most known for disputes involving rail industry schemes, as well as regulatory disputes and contentious funding negotiations. It also has the ability to handle multi-disciplinary disputes, utilising the firm’s global office network. The key name is John Gordon, a seasoned pensions disputes lawyer.
‘Ashurst are Rolls Royce commercial litigators, who have the in-house pensions expertise required to run pension litigation.’
‘John Gordon knows everything there is to know about pensions.’
‘John Gordon has excellent knowledge and shows willingness to work with other experts.’
Norton Rose Fulbright fields a multi-disciplinary pensions disputes and investigations group, bringing together pensions lawyers with colleagues from the litigation, financial restructuring, insolvency and consulting departments. The team focuses on representing trustee and employer clients, in cases regarding the running of a scheme, documentation, and internal and ombudsman complaints. Patrick Bourke takes the lead, also coordinating the wider EMEA practice. Lesley Browning has recent experience in negotiations with trade unions and investigations initiated by the pensions regulator, while Katie Stephen is the name to note for financial services contentious regulatory matters, often acting in pensions-related matters.
Other key lawyers:
Shane O’Reilly; Katie Stephen; Michelle George; Charlie Weston-Simons; Lesley Browning
‘Strength in depth. Experience and stability.’
‘Ability to understand issues quickly and to provide pragmatic advice. Always available to discuss issues as they arise.’
- Advised Renishaw plc on a complex benefits rectification exercise, involving sex equalisation and potential over- and under-payments.
Shoosmiths LLP continues to build its standalone pensions disputes practice, defending scheme administrators in alleged breaches of duties and acting for trustees and principal employers in relation to potential claims against former advisers. Based in Leeds, key lawyer Matthew Howarth handles cases involving the equalisation of retirement ages, rectification issues and professional negligence claims. He works closely with the firm’s non-contentious lawyers, namely Paul Carney, who is steeped in public sector pensions expertise.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team have been very helpful in the process of reviewing historical data and papers. They have kept the other professionals engaged and closely worked with counsel.’
‘Matthew Howarth has led from the front on this engagement.’
Bloor Holdings Limited
Capita Employee Benefits Limited
Greater Manchester Pension Fund
- Continued advising Entrust Limited in relation to its claim (along with the sponsoring employer) against the former scheme administrators regarding the failure to close the Barber Window and equalise pension retirement ages.
- Advising the principal employer Bloor Holdings Limited in a claim for rectification regarding the imposition of unequal retirement ages in error, and issuing High Court proceedings seeking a rectification of the amendments to the Scheme Rules.
- Advising scheme administrators in relation to a claim made against them in relation to the winding up of a pension scheme and whether the scope of duty extended to the winding up of the scheme and if so on what basis.